As a child of the 50's and 60's, I grew up in a community that had more Holocaust survivers than anywhere else in America. Seeing parents of friends or people in our town with numbers etched into their arms was not an unusual occurrence. Whether it was because of the high Jewish population where we lived, or the times, I don't know. But even as young children, we learned a great deal about Hitler's attempt to take over Europe and murder all its Jews.
Thus, many times, I would ask my mother, "why didn't the Jews leave?" How could they stay in a land where they were treated like dung, then eventually removed from their homes, herded into camps and then exterminated? Always, my mother would give me the same explanation. "Jews in Germany were actually treated better than in many other nations. By the time that many Jews realized what was happening - it was too late. They couldn't get out."
I knew how fortunate I was to live in the United States. I also believed strongly that the world had "learned" how horrific Hitler's actions and principles were. I knew that anti-semitism was waning and that future generations would never have to worry about the horror my ancestors had faced.
Boy - what a dope I was. Roger Simon explains.
I was both elated and scared when I heard the “nays” and “boos” emanating from the Democratic National Convention floor Wednesday as a pathetic Antonio Villaraigosa desperately tried to take votes amending the Democratic platform on “God” and “Jerusalem” — elated because I was watching a bogus public dumb show come apart, at least temporarily, at the seams, but scared because I was staring, again at least temporarily, into the gaping yaw of the 1930s.
For those fleeting seconds, I realized that, yes, it could also happen here, because, make no mistake about it, those copious boos were not for “God” (except, perhaps, for a few scattered nitwits), but for Israel. A sizable and serious claque on the Democratic National Convention floor was shouting and applauding against the Jews.
In an interview, Dershowitz also stated: “Israel should never become a wedge issue that separates Republicans from Democrats and I fear that this omission from the platform contributes to making it a wedge.”
Indeed it does — or did. But the problem is mere word changes in a platform do not begin to alter this. Anyone, and I defy Dershowitz to contradict this, observing the reaction to Villaraigosa on the convention floor can see that a significant portion of the Democratic Party has a real problem with Israel that appears, though I wish it were not so, painfully close to anti-Semitism. On balance, the Republicans are vastly more pro-Israel, even if some bizarre characters, like the antediluvian Democratic Party chair of Palm Beach County Mark Alan Siegel, still believe evangelical Christians are a bigger threat to Jews than Ayatollah Khamenei. (If the bigoted screed on this video doesn’t get this clown fired, what will?)
So we come again to the age-old question: Will Jews finally stop their slavish devotion to the Democratic Party and vote in their own interest? Cynics in my readership often wave this off as an impossibility. To them I say, we are at a significant moment in our nation’s history and your cynicism isn’t very useful. It is self-fulfilling prophecy and I don’t care if you are right. It’s time to put negativity aside, all of us, and do everything we can to wake up our friends, neighbors, and relatives. We have to do that without rancor or self-righteousness. For anyone to change the tradition of a lifetime is difficult and highly threatening. I know it was for me. But it also can be even more invigorating and renewing once you walk through that ominous wall.
Fifty something years later after I asked my mother those questions, I must admit I still like to think it could never happen again. Nevertheless, I realize now that it is not an impossibility.
Will Jews start to realize that more than a few people in the Democratic party really, really don't like them? Will more than a trickle start to vote Republican (and perhaps try to work within that party to temper the stridency of the social right, which is what I believe prevents many from "crossing over"?)
We shall see.